Emily Dwyer says fighting COVID-19 was unlike anything she’s ever experienced.
The 26-year-old from Halifax was one of the first in the province to test positive for the virus, which she contracted on an international trip. Now, she’s one of 11 in Nova Scotia to fully recover.
Despite being young and healthy, Dwyer says the illness really did a number on her.
“I woke up with body aches and eventually lost my sense of smell and taste,” Dwyer said in a FaceTime interview with Global News on Tuesday. “That’s when I started to realize, OK, something strange is going on, I’ve never felt this way in my life.”
Dwyer says she was sleeping about 16 hours a day and started experiencing extreme chills. The bad cough came on the third day of feeling unwell.
“I didn’t think it was COVID until the cough began because I also didn’t have a fever, which was one of the most surprising things about my symptoms,” she said. “Once I had the cough with the body aches, that’s when I knew something is wrong here.”
That’s when Dwyer called 811, where health officials recommended she get tested. Less than 24 hours later she was given the positive diagnosis.
“I wasn’t that surprised. I was keeping a journal of how I felt throughout everything, and on even day 2 I was like, I would be more surprised if I didn’t have the virus at this point,” she continued.
“I slept at least 12 hours every night and then I would nap every day. That’s just so outside of my character.”
Upon returning from travel, Dwyer says she immediately self-isolated and after testing positive, public health officials dropped a package off to her door with masks, a thermometre and alcohol swabs.
She says a public health nurse called every day to check in while she was self-isolating. Despite her symptoms getting worse at one point, Dwyer felt she could always be supported.
Dwyer has completed her 14 days of self-quarantine and is no longer contagious. She then decided to share her story on social media to show others what the symptoms of COVID-19 are like, and that you can have – and recover – from the virus.
“It’s just kind of isolating to be like, wow, I’m the only person that I know that has this. I don’t have a friend I can call, I don’t have someone like that,” she said.
Dwyer also notes that no one is immune to contracting COVID-19.
“I’m young and I’m healthy and it still really knocked me down for two weeks,” she said. “For people that are young, it can still affect them. It’s not just about older people or people with underlying health conditions.”
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.
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